A complex image, Flower Power

Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 3.02.41 pm copy                           Flower Power, Bernie Bosten/Wikimedia 

Flower power, this photo above was captured on October 21st, 1967, by an American photographer Bernie Boston, for the Washington Star Newspaper; during the National Mobilization Committee to end the war in Vietnam. This iconic image is showing a Vietnam war protester placing flowers one by one into the barrel of the rifle, held by the soldiers restraining the protesters from the Military Police Battalion.

The photograph became a symbolic significance, it started the ‘flower power movement’. The flowers were a sign of peace, they were then handed out at protests against the Vietnam war. The use of non-violent flowers was to show that the protest against the war was not associated with anger and violence, rather than a typical movement/protest that users anger through yelling, and physically fighting for their ‘right’.

The connotation of this image is to create a movement that has a symbolising effect on the media, and the public. Although the image didn’t gain immediate attention from the media it soon became a symbol of counterculture that became a part of non-violent protests for anti-Vietnam war. The flowers were continually used in protests around the country, they were attention grabbing, peaceful and impacted society in a good way.                                                                                                                                             The first time I glanced at this image (Flower Power) I was immediately engaged and intrigued as to what the history behind it was. I personally interpreted the image as it was, although I had no knowledge of the flower power movement, location of the image and when it was taken. But with my ideologies I understood that the image was a sign of peace from a protester to some sort of soldier or military officer. I believe that it is possible to see this image in another way, for example you may think that the man (George Harris) placing the flowers in the rifle, may be removing the flowers from the gun. If that was how you interpreted it, then you would see the photograph in a whole new light. Peace would not be the main factor of the image, you may see rebellion rather than a peaceful statement, making George Harris look foolish or self-centred.

How would you see this image, a peace gesture like I do, or something different?


Gazduncan. (2018). Photography that changed the world. [online] Available at: https://gazduncan.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/photography-that-changed-the-world/ [Accessed 28 Mar. 2018].

The Famous Pictures Collection. (2018). Flower Power. [online] Available at: http://www.famouspictures.org/flower-power/ [Accessed 27 Mar. 2018].

Vintag.es. (2018). Be the Flower in the Gun: The Story Behind the Historic Photograph “Flower Power” in 1967. [online] Available at: http://www.vintag.es/2017/09/be-flower-in-gun-story-behind-historic.html [Accessed 30 Mar. 2018].



One thought on “A complex image, Flower Power

  1. I loved this image, I haven’t encountered it before and it was extremely thought provoking! Your post outlines the denotations and connotations of the image extremely well. I was reading through a small snippet of an article by Andrea Busto outlining her connotations that were drawn from the image when shown in an exhibition and contextualising the image. It would be good to include this perhaps in your last paragraph instead of exploring the alternate connotations, focusing more on the connotations you gather from the image with reference to academic’s response to it. It was a well written post, and I enjoyed how you posed a question at the end for the readers own thought provocation.

    Reference to the source for further reading!
    Busto, A. (2009), ‘Flower Power’ CRAA Centro Ricerca Arte Attuale, Verbania, pp. 1 – 2.


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